Name: Johannes Selbach
Currently: Winemaker at Selbach-Oster
Please, tell us about how you got into wine, the wine industry and how your career developed?
I was born into it. My family has been engaged in the wine business since AD 1600. As a teenager, I detested the “slave” labor in the vineyards but my father believed in, my three brothers and I should experience first hand what put the bread on the table and that we should also appreciate the very work that went into the making of wine, plus appreciate the job each and everyone from our staff was doing. So we had to pull weeds in the heat of the summer instead of lingering by the pool…At that time, we did not understand but certainly do now.
What is your philosophy to making wine and viticulture?
Hands off in the cellar, hands on in the vineyard.
Which cultivar is your favourite to work with and why?
Riesling! The most versatile and in my opinion noble white grape. Why ? Because it is indigenous to our area, is adapted to our soil and climate and because it has a proven track record on the Mosel for three centuries and beyond. It can produce, literally speaking, the colors of the rainbow, or all tunes on the piano from bone dry to noble sweet and everything in-between, while maintaining grace and elegance. On top it is extremely long lived and, if done without added “make-up” , it is very pure and transcendent, reflecting the character, smell and flavour of soil and fruit like no other grape I know.
How do you see the future of wine production and what are the challenges and the opportunities?
We will see a thriving wine industry because the overall interest in wine is growing world-wide. New vineyards and wineries in the “new” world will continue to evolve and China is a prime example. This obviously means more competition but if one produces excellent wines, one need not to fear competition. Frankly, the new vineyards will come along with the growing demand. Obviously, we have no harmonized wine laws and production rules around the globe so some producers can do what’s illegal for others and that can create problems, especially for the “casual” consumer who does not know much about wine and can’t differentiate . The challenges are manifold and they lie in climatic changes, cultural and political changes that influence both the production as well as consumption ( some “fundamental” strains of more than one faith/religion are becoming less tolerant ). The opportunities, however, outweigh the challenges, since more people get exposed to wine, become curious, discover wine – as well as food & wine – and this is good news for the wine industry. For the “old world”, and speaking for myself in the steep Mosel valley, production cost and maintaining the necessary labour force will continue to be a major issue, along with becoming more and more regulated and “controlled”. The opportunity for an “old” region like the Mosel lies in the unique “terroir” and the specialization in Riesling, one grape that is fickle and needs to be treated like royalty in order to feel “at home” and only when everything is “right”, it will produce fantastic results. In this sense Riesling is the sibling of Pinot Noir and the Burgundians do have a similar sense of the importance of “place” and the respect for it.
Where do you see the global wine market in 2025?
Bigger and more thriving than where we are today. Growth will happen around the globe where people will earn additional discretionary income and where they have access to and the freedom to eat and drink what they want. We are already witness to a lot of “cross-pollinate” between many cultures and one can witness this looking at the shelves in restaurants and the number of ethnic or at least “fusion influenced” restaurants in most developed countries around the globe. Worldwide travel is the fuel that propels this development! The biggest growth will come from Asia for sure though consumers from developing countries no matter where, with more money in their pockets, will travel more and will discover the beauty and pleasures of wine, wine and food and wine culture, which they’ll want to enjoy at home as well.
Bottomline: a bright future.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommelier jobs & more – www.sommelier-jobs.com